Research and Statistics

Interest rates fall as 59.9% APR credit card goes away


Interest rates pulled back from record levels this week, although cardholders may not have much reason to cheer.

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers; and please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Interest rates pulled back from record levels this week, but credit cardholders shouldn’t get too excited.’s Weekly Rate Report
Avg. APRLast week 6 months ago
National average14.39%14.62%12.14%
Low interest12.38%12.23%10.62%
Cash back12.61%12.61%11.77%
Balance transfer12.71%12.64%10.14%
Instant approval18.41%18.41%12.99%
Bad credit21.14%25.99%14.29%
Methodology: The national average credit card APR is comprised of 95 of the most popular credit cards in the country, including cards from dozens of leading U.S. issuers and representing every card category listed above. (Introductory, or teaser, rates are not included in the calculation.)
Updated: 3-3-2010

The national average interest rate on new credit card offers fell nearly a quarter-point to 14.39 percent, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report, falling from the highest level since tracking began in 2007. It is just the second time in 2010 that annual percentage rates (APRs) have dropped, and it was due to the decision of one subprime card marketer to eliminate a card offer with a rate of nearly 60 percent.

First Premier, which targets customers with poor credit, decided to pull its Gold MasterCard following a trial. “We used it as a test, and we are analyzing the long-term viability of this product test,” says First Premier spokeswoman Amy Durbin. Since that card had such a high interest rate — 59.9 percent — its removal alone pushed the national average interest rate lower.

The decline would have been even steeper, but it was offset somewhat by rate increases by other card issuers.

Comerica boosted the APR on its Visa card offer, while Citi raised interest rates on two of its gas card products. Citi said its term changes are the result of both higher losses from delinquent customers and the new restrictions from the Credit CARD Act of 2009 on the repricing of existing card accounts.

Although the new law restricts banks from implementing surprise rate hikes on existing balances, it doesn’t address new offer APRs — which are the rates tracked by

Those APRs have increased over recent months, as banks aim to replace revenues generated by practices that the CARD Act outlaws. The changes by lenders have made it more expensive for new cardholders to carry a balance. For example, someone who borrowed $5,000 on a credit card today and consistently paid $150 per month at today’s average interest rate would have to pay $6,423 to pay off the debt. That’s $293 more than would have been required six months earlier. (Calculator: How long will it take to pay off your credit card balance?)

The banks acknowledge that cardholders may not be happy about these higher costs, but they say that consumers do have options. “We have communicated these changes in a clear and transparent way,” says Citi spokesman Samuel Wang. “Every customer had the choice to opt out and pay off the existing balances over time at their current rate.”

Just how aggressively cardholders have been paying off these balances will be revealed on Friday, when the Federal Reserve’s consumer credit report for January shows the direction of card balances during the first month of 2010.

See related: Credit card reform arrives in the form of the Credit CARD Act, A guide to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, What’s NOT covered by the credit card reform law, Calculator: How long will it take to pay off your credit card balance?, Fed report: Consumer credit card balances keep plummeting, Interactive: Historic credit card rates

What’s up next?

In Research and Statistics

White House online town hall credit card reform transcript

This transcript chronicles the conversation between administration officials and readers on Feb. 22, 2010, the day a federal credit card reform law took effect.

Published: March 3, 2010

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: August 14th, 2019
Cash Back

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company’s business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.